Thursday, January 28, 2016


The results from this ABC/Washington Post poll that grabbed the headline involve Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump:
Clinton Seen as Winner in November; A Trump Presidency Inspires Anxiety

Most Americans expect that Hillary Clinton would prevail against her leading GOP opponent in November, while Bernie Sanders’ chances are rated less well. The thought of Donald Trump as president inspires high levels of public anxiety.....

With Trump as the GOP nominee vs. Clinton, 54 percent of Americans say they’d expect Clinton to win; among registered voters (a more GOP-leaning group), Clinton has 52 percent support. Clinton’s seen by much wider margins as beating Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio....

Seven in 10 say they’re “anxious” about the idea as Trump as president, including 51 percent who feel that way strongly.
But the result I find striking is the nation's comfort level with Bernie Sanders:

Of the candidates tested, only Sanders comes out ahead in terms of comfort vs. anxiety: Fifty percent of Americans are comfortable with the idea of a Sanders presidency vs. 43 percent who are anxious about it. Americans are more nervous than calm about Cruz (-8 points), and slightly more concerned about Rubio and Clinton (both -5).
I would have expected the low anxiety level to be the result of general public unfamiliarity with Sanders, but 93% of respondents are willing to venture an opinion on him. I also would have thought that Trump, Clinton, and Cruz would arouse anxiety, but Rubio less so, because he's tried to position himself as a rational candidate even while staking out very conservative positions. But no -- in addition to Democrats and liberals, moderates, urbanites, and women feel anxiety when they imagine a Rubio presidency.

Bernie? He makes only Republicans, conservatives, and rural voters very anxious. (Well, whites, too, but it's close -- 44% comfortable, 49% anxious.) Moderates are surprisingly at ease with Sanders (55%-38%), more so than they are with Hillary Clinton (51%-47%). Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump are all very much in negative territory with moderates.

I assumed that if non-fans had formed any impression of Sanders, he was likely to be seen as a wild-eyed, fist-shaking, angry old radical -- a somewhat more crotchety Bill Ayers. But apparently Americans see him as reasonable and non-threatening.

Maybe he's seen as just an earnest advocate for ordinary folks. Maybe respondents know some of his ideas (socialism!) and don't think they sound so crazy.

And maybe he's less anxiety-inducing because he seems like your grandfather. He's not the only senior citizen who could be on the ballot in November -- he's 74, Trump is 69, Clinton is 68, and, by the way, Mike Bloomberg is 73 -- but unlike the other seniors, he's not even trying to conceal the fact that he's old. Unlike the others, he's not trying to look as if he's merely middle-aged. Sure, he's in reasonably good shape and he's obviously vigorous, but he's definitely an old guy. So maybe America's thinking, How much harm could he do?


Unknown said...

Maybe Bernie has progressive policies that voters actually agree with. Despite looking like an angry old guy.

Ten Bears said...

Who are you guys calling old?

repsac3 said...

I guess Bernie looks older...but McCain seemed angrier back when he ran 8 years ago, which made him seem older, even then.

And yeah, Bernie can be angry, but even when he is he doesn't come off threatening or crotchety... (...maybe because I get angry at many of the same things...)

He is like grandpa (yours, or the grandfather of someone you know), and I also buy that--"socialist" or not--his ideas don't seem all that scary or off-the-wall, which makes folks (well, most folks, anyway) more comfortable with him.